Do You Aerate First Then Put Down Lawn Fertilizer?

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Lawn maintenance includes several steps for tending to and encouraging healthy growth. Aeration is necessary to allow the water and oxygen to reach the roots and soil below the lawn's surface. After removing plugs of soil during aeration you can fertilize your lawn to promote stronger growth. The time of year and type of grass will determine how best to fertilize after aeration.


Before You Aerate

Before aerating your lawn you should schedule the maintenance during a time of year beneficial to your grass type. Generally, mid to late spring and early to mid fall are optimal times to aerate and fertilize. Fertilizer can "burn" the grass and should be applied during the times of year when the sun is less intense. Rake the lawn before aerating to remove thatch as well as any stones that may damage your aerator. Water the lawn to moisturize the soil if it has not rained in the previous 48 hours.


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Plug Aeration

You can choose to aerate your lawn via two different methods; plug or solid spike aeration. The solid spikes dig holes into the lawn to create the avenues for water and air. Plug aerators remove small plugs of soil to allow larger openings for the water and oxygen. The plug aeration is better for the lawn as it allows for the space that will be occupied by the expanding soil. The larger openings left by plug aerators also allow for more water to be able to seep deeper into the soil.



Fertilize the soil using a seed spreader. Use a fertilizer that provides the levels of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium needed by your type of grass. Consult the fertilizer packaging for levels. Adjust the spreader to deliver the fertilizer at the recommended rate for your type of grass. Apply the fertilizer early in the day. Turn off the spreader when you are not moving to avoid over-fertilizing certain spots. Keep weed-and-feed fertilizers away from garden plants or other plants and flowers you want in your yard. The weed killer will indiscriminately target the plants and flowers.



Leave the plugs of soil left by the aerator on the lawn. Water and mow the lawn regularly and properly for the time of year and your climate. Reapply fertilizer as often as four times annually (for northern, cooler climates) to as many as six times per year (for southern, warmer locales). Use a fertilizer without pre-emergence control during any time you are also seeding or overseeding you lawn.


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